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A north/south view of a rendering of MoMA looking east along Fifty-Third Street. Photo: Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
A north/south view of a rendering of MoMA looking east along Fifty-Third Street. Photo: Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

New York’s MoMA Will Close this Summer to Complete Expansion

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will temporarily shutter for four months beginning this summer to complete its $400 million expansion project that will add forty thousand square feet of space to the institution, Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times reports. While its doors are closed from June 15 to October 21, MoMA will work to reconfigure its galleries and rethink the presentation of its permanent collection in order to feature more works by underrecognized artists and Latino, Asian, and African American artists.

“We don’t want to forget our roots in terms of having the greatest Modernist collection,” Leon Black, the museum’s chairman, told the New York Times, “but the museum didn’t emphasize female artists, didn’t emphasize what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography.” He added: “Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in.”

The museum will also be able to close without having to worry about losing revenue from its summer ticket sales. MoMA is preparing to announce that it has received a monumental gift. More than $200 million has been pledged to the institution from the estate of David Rockefeller, the American philanthropist, banker, and longtime museum trustee, who died in 2017. The museum’s directorship has been renamed in Rockefeller’s honor in recognition of the gift.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, the multiyear renovation began in February 2016 with the overhaul of its east section. It added two spacious galleries on its third floor, extended its historic Bauhaus staircase to its ground level, and created a new first floor lounge facing the Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. It also revamped its second-floor café; upgraded its restrooms; and opened a new museum store, an espresso bar, and a coat check. This summer, MoMA will complete the final stage of construction on its west side.

When MoMA reopens, its galleries will no longer be arranged by discipline—a system it used for eight decades. Instead, it will mix mediums to allow for a more fluid narrative of modern and contemporary art. The museum will also rotate exhibitions every six to nine months to show more of its collection and will open to the public earlier, at 10:00 AM. A survey of Latin American art donated by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros between 1997 and 2016 and exhibitions by African American artists William Pope.L and Betye Saar will inaugurate the space.

“The Museum of Modern Art’s renovation and expansion project will seek to reassure and surprise,” Glenn D. Lowry said in a statement last year. “Our curators and the architectural team have spent more than two years in conversations about the nature of our collection, the history of our installations, the continually changing nature of art, and our opportunities and responsibilities for engaging our audiences. The outcome of these discussions is a design that accommodates a global view and new perspectives on modern and contemporary art, and that embodies the metabolic and self-renewing nature of our institution.”

In addition, MoMA announced that it has entered a new partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem and will allow the institution, which is also currently under construction, to stage exhibitions in its building. Its first show, “Studio Museum at MoMA,” curated by director Thelma Golden, will showcase the work of the Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage.